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How do people go about setting the drag? I've been told before to set so that it starts to slip just before the breaking strain of the line, but surely this will be too much under shock loading, ie when striking?
 

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i'm not an expert but i set my drag till i can just comfortably pull line off with my hand, i have found that when a fish takes it is loose enough not to put the line under too much strain and also i have plenty of time to just tighten it up a little more when playing the fish HTH :)

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Hi I normally have a light to medium drag. Then use my finger on the spool to control the drag. You should not need to strike hard just lift in to the fish. If you brake off on the strike or slip the drag, your pulling the fishes head off its not needed.
 

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I don't actually worry too much about drag figures or the line's breaking strain. Because the hooks on the majority of lures we use aren't massive, if you set the drag too tight (especially with a more powerful rod), you will just pull hooks out and lose loads of fish. I set it so that if a fish runs medium-hard, it takes line. Almost regardless of whether I'm using 15lb or 35lb line, my drag tends to be set around the same level. It's not about preventing line breakage, but a lot more to do with preventing hook pulls. The more powerful the rod you use, the more likely hook pulls are. We rarely consider hook size and rod power or stiffness in lure fishing, but it's 100% relevant.
 
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it dosent matter what stiffness your rod is or hook size unless you are yousing a 10-15 kilo rod with 10lb line on it and what person would do that????? the rule of thumb for drag settings is one third the breaking strain of your line ie 15lb would be 5lb drag setting you screw the drag down when fishing heavy structior so you at least stand some chance of hauling the fish out before you loose every thing the correct drag will make for more enjoyment when fighting fish pulled hooks are par for the course when in heavy structior
 

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I would sooner have the drag set a little too light than anbything else. So long as those hooks will penetrate the fishes skin and sink in, then the drag is sufficient at that point.
If the fish goes careering off towards structure and it comes time to heave back against it, then tighten the drag some more and use the bend of the rod to apply pressure on the fish.
Assuming you have managed to retain your hook hold and have drawn the fish away from the "danger area", then ease the drag off again. If you are using braid, this is even more important because with mono, yu have a degree of stretch, even on short lengths. Braid, has practically no stretch and will snatch a hook from the fishes mouth as quickly as anything if the clutch is too tight.
As you get your fish to your feet / side of the boat, then ease the clutch off that bit more. Just in case it goes for another escape attempt. I have seen and lost all too many fish at the side of the boat or at my feet because of forgetting to ease off the clutch. No doubt, I will have it happen again too when I get to battle a good fish for a while and go forgetting about things like easing off the clutch when that line's getting short.
 

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exactly why I use a light cluch and control with hand pressure. No need to keep ajusting the setting when your playing a fish.
 

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it dosent matter what stiffness your rod is or hook size unless you are yousing a 10-15 kilo rod with 10lb line on it and what person would do that????? the rule of thumb for drag settings is one third the breaking strain of your line ie 15lb would be 5lb drag setting you screw the drag down when fishing heavy structior so you at least stand some chance of hauling the fish out before you loose every thing the correct drag will make for more enjoyment when fighting fish pulled hooks are par for the course when in heavy structior
Pete, with respect, you're right about the standard drag equations. Generally they're relevant, but how may of us in the UK bother testing or setting drags to those settings? Its all trial and error here.

I am 100% correct about hook sizes. If it doesn't matter, you try fishing a size 24 hook on a heavy feeder or match rod. You'll land nothing that tries to pull back. Hook will pull out all over the place. There will and must be a limit somewhere where every rod takes a suitable minimum hook size. It's about balanced tackle. Some lure rods we use will be fine with a size 8 or 6 treble.... some will not. How many fish do people loose for 'unknown' purposes?!...... hook pulled! Softer rods are more cushioning and will prevent this from happening - you know that. Because the UK currently has a slightly out of shape useage for braided lines (i.e. we tend to start on 30lb for general bass plugging when we could be using 10lb), we'd all be using proper tightened down drags (10lb) if we were actually fishing to suit the line. Hardly any fish would ever take line in UK waters. How many UK fish pull that hard? Most people here don't currently go by the book. Until they/we/I do, it's a slightly different thing.
 

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I find my catch rate go's through the roof when the drag is set low, by low i mean where I can pull line off with my hand with not much effort, as a lot of bass are won and lost at your feet, By this I Mean where there isn't much line between you and the fish.
I have played with different settings, with different rods but a drag set on the lighter side Rules in my book! If a bass hits you hard close in, 6ft for example....YOU have no time to adjust anything.
 

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Exactly Nath.

Since we're a bit odd in the UK and use predominantly:

- Japanese lures (designed for soft action, lighter rods)(we complain when the hooks bend when we use the below...)

- European rods (designed with fast actions and incredibly powerful butt sections in some cases - these don't offer much cushioning during the fight once they've bent past a certain point so we lose fish - hooks pull out!)

- Mainlines capable of landing bull sharks

...so!.... we must set our drags lower than the International rule of thumb to compensate. The rod isn't going to give any more slack when a fish dives, so the drag has to release to do the same job.

We're working on it, and we'll get there. Eventually.
 
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My result from playing with drag settings is exactly the same as Nathan's, just enough to set the hooks.
Play the fish with rod pressure/directions, and let the drag do it's job.
 

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I prefer a light to medium drag But i tend to use the reverse spool gizmo also Just gives that extra cushion if you mistime landing a good fish
 

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IMHO you are dead right guys if we are working lures with rod tips pointing at or in the general direction of the lure we have no cushioning when we get a hard take and need the clutch to be set right or we lose fish. Particularly as mentioned when hitting fish at our feet.

Slightly off topic though I would argue that poor technique is just as likely to cause fish losses as incorrect clutch setting. I was always taught no matter what species of fish you're after that as soon as the fish is on the rod and hands are kept as high as you can get them. Adding and extra 2 or 3 feet to the rod length which helps when trying to control the fish and also allows some cushioning to be provided by the movement of the arms if a fish goes on a run. But you see all too often low rods, low hands and rods even pointing at the fish after the fish is hooked. I wish it was as simple a problem to cure by setting the clutch correctly but it would certainly reduce some losses I'm sure.....
 
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Good advice Trev
 

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Don't really know if this would apply to lure fishing. But playing a fish such as barbel on a high rod will often result in pulled hooks. A low rod even to the extent of the tip under water with side pressure. Results in more fish on the bank and also a lot quicker to. But as I said at the beginning how this would relate to lures I am not sure! But remember in fresh water fish that are far heavier than the braking strain of the line ie. 20-30lb carp on10-15lb line are landed by low rod and side pressure.
 

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I find my catch rate go's through the roof when the drag is set low, by low i mean where I can pull line off with my hand with not much effort, as a lot of bass are won and lost at your feet, By this I Mean where there isn't much line between you and the fish.
I have played with different settings, with different rods but a drag set on the lighter side Rules in my book! If a bass hits you hard close in, 6ft for example....YOU have no time to adjust anything.
That's pretty much how I see and do it, Nath. I wasn't taught that. It just felt right.
 

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Don't really know if this would apply to lure fishing. But playing a fish such as barbel on a high rod will often result in pulled hooks. A low rod even to the extent of the tip under water with side pressure. Results in more fish on the bank and also a lot quicker to. But as I said at the beginning how this would relate to lures I am not sure! But remember in fresh water fish that are far heavier than the braking strain of the line ie. 20-30lb carp on10-15lb line are landed by low rod and side pressure.
My experience is mainly coarse and fly fishing but Daves point is that the rod is still at an angle to the line/fish so the rod is playing its part as a shock absorber when playing a fish. The purpose of the clutch is to give line when the pressure of the fish is greater than the rod is designed to take (assuming balanced tackle is being used). Once a rod gets past c. 90 degrees then its normally unable to absorb much further pressure hence every additional ounce of pressure from the fish is passed directly to the hook hold/line, unless you give line, the line will break or hook will pull. I set a failry light clutch on almost all fishing locations and use my finger to apply greater pressure when necessary. The only exception might be chub or carp fishing in very snaggy swims where to give line too easily might result in a lost fish before you know it (not that relevant to lure fishing but you get the point!).

Trevs point is equally valid as I see anglers playing a fish but allowing slack line or simply pulling harder than the gear is designed to take. I saw a man break a fly rod with a nice trout through pulling the rod so far back that the tip was nearly touching the butt! Totally his own fault but he blamed the rod and was off to make a 'claim' from the shop - who would be a tackle dealer! Nothing like catching big carp or trout on light, balanced tackle to learn good technique.
 

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Don't really know if this would apply to lure fishing. But playing a fish such as barbel on a high rod will often result in pulled hooks. A low rod even to the extent of the tip under water with side pressure. Results in more fish on the bank and also a lot quicker to. But as I said at the beginning how this would relate to lures I am not sure! But remember in fresh water fish that are far heavier than the braking strain of the line ie. 20-30lb carp on10-15lb line are landed by low rod and side pressure.
It relates equally well. People just need to have faith and learn some skills.
 

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Dave said:
But remember in fresh water fish that are far heavier than the braking strain of the line ie. 20-30lb carp on10-15lb line are landed by low rod and side pressure
Agreed Dave but you are trying to keep 90 degrees to the fish all the time to give you the cushion. Have caught 25lb carp on 5lb line when fishing for tench before now with out the clutch being used as they just are not that fast that I couldn't give line by winding backwards. Watch Matt Hayes he does exactly the same, has a high set clutch and prefers to reel backwards for more control...for carp. But these are Bass and require different tactics IMHO.
 
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